Johnson Lexus Half Marathon – Race Recap


Well, this morning was the first running of the Johnson Lexus Half Marathon, in Raleigh’s North Hills area.  I signed up for this race several months ago, knowing that it should be a good challenge based on the hills in the area, and the beautiful greenways that portions of the race were being run on.  I was right!  It was definitely a challenge.

The weather this morning was overcast, but dry.  Temperature was about 65 degrees at the start of the race.  It rained a good bit overnight, and yesterday, and the chances for rain during the race was 30%.  First off, it did not rain, but the recent rains certainly made running the greenways challenging.  There were many areas on the trails that were pooled with water, with a few spots being impassable unless you ran through the water.  Other spots were partially covered in big pools of water, but you could get around them by dodging off to the side of the trail, and thus, get nice and muddy.  It was a mess.  I was a mess.  The raised portions (wooden walkways) were almost treacherous at times, and very slippery.  Being in the woods, the water does not easily evaporate with the humidity we get, so parts were very slick.  I watched several runners almost wipe out from slips.  Thankfully I witnessed no one crash and fall.

Knowing that this was a “B” race for me, my final tune up, and long run for the Asheville Marathon next Saturday, I kept telling myself this morning, to run hard, but not overdo it.  I started the race pretty fast.  My first mile split was sub 7.  About a half mile at the beginning was all downhill, so it makes it tough to not go out fast.  All I could think about though while running down it, was the fact that I had to run back up it to the finish after 12.5 miles.  Less than a mile in to the race, we made a turn off onto the Greenway. It was very nice, but as I explained before, you really had to keep a close eye on the path.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t like having to watch every foot strike, and be on the lookout for potential hazards while racing.  The extra stress this puts on you is unnecessary.  Plus it slows you down.  I think I really would have been able to take more advantage of the downhill portions of this race if I didn’t have to worry about slipping and falling.  Or jumping over puddles, or slipping on mud.  Just me, but I could have been faster today If the course was in better shape.  You can’t argue with Mother Nature though, and it was what it was.

A few miles in, I managed to get into a nice pace, and breathing pattern.  Things felt good.  I couldn’t keep up the sub 7 pace, but certainly didn’t expect to.  Slowly over the next several miles, my pace dropped back to levels that I am used to while racing.  7:05, then 7:17, and slowly eeked toward 7:30.  Once again, my pace today, was something that I was not stressing over.  I just wanted to enjoy the race, and get in that one last hard fought training run for next weekend.  I accomplished that, for sure.  Even though today’s race was fairly cool, the humidity was at or near 100%.  I didn’t stop for water until about mile 5-6.  I stopped at each of the remaining aid stations minus one, until the finish, but still had some cramping during that last uphill climb.  First the toes on my right foot, which made me stop and walk them out.  Then my calves started up the last quarter of a mile.  Note to self: better hydration next time.  Keep an eye on humidity levels in the days prior to racing over the next few weeks.  Crucial hydration will be key.

Here are a few photos of the race.  Not sure who took these, but were posted on the race webpage on Facebook.


These pictures are all taken on road portions of the race.  Quite a bit of the race was on the greenways, however.  Always nice to run in areas that you never gave before.  It gives runners a unique perspective, and breaks up the monotony of a strictly asphalt road race.  Here is a picture of greenway traversing through a pond.


As you can see, the day was overcast.  I was glad that it never rained.

This course is really nice, I enjoyed it.  I contains a few loops, so that you can see where your competition is.  I am not one to turn around and check out where the folks are behind me, so a loop here and there is nice.  You get to see where you stand, without being obvious about it.  Coming up on the 10 mile mark, the 1:45 pacer was gaining on me.  The next few miles we jockeyed back and forth.  I would forge ahead, then she would.  According to my Garmin, she was actually ahead of her assigned pace.   I think she was running with a friend, and trying to pace her to a new PR.  Anyway, I ended up beating them to the finish my seconds, after that massively tough uphill climb to the finish.  No race should finish with a 1/2 mile uphill portion, IMO.  It’s a little demoralizing after putting in so much effort, and being so close to the finish.  Downhill finishes are much preferred by this runner!

This race is put on by the Midtown Race Series.  It is well organized, and well staffed.  This time around they did take the advice from previous race participants and offered same day race packet pickup, which was very much appreciated.  I live about 45 minutes from where his race is held, so making a second trip just to pick up my bib is foolish.  Great race directors listen to runners, and this one sure did!  Thank you!

So, all in all, it was a great experience today.  Results were posted at the finish, but the most recent online update shows the following stats for my race.

Clock Time:  1:43:46

Chip time:  1:43:43

Overall Finish:  46/417

Gender Finish:  38/183

Age Group:  5/31


Overall, I am very pleased with my race today.  My finish time was just slightly under my Half Marathon average finish time.  This was my 16th Half marathon, 6th this year.  I am feeling fit and ready to conquer the Asheville Marathon a week from today.  Recovery time this afternoon and evening, and I should be good to go.  If you have been following along on posts leading up to this race, then you know that I could have had the chance to win a Lexus today.  Title sponsor being a local dealership.  Well, they were not announcing awards until 10:30 this morning, followed by the chance to win the car.  My race finished at 8:43 this morning.  I was not going to stick around there for almost two hours to see if I would win it.  So I am Lexusless this afternoon.  My Volt will hold me just fine.